First Reconciliation – a Sacrament for Parents
Making connections: Parents and the Sacrament of Reconciliation –
Throughout this time of sacramental preparation, I am becoming more and more convinced that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is about parenting, and providing parents with the support and encouragement needed to raise loving and faith-filled children. The graces of the sacrament Reconciliation affirms the role of parenting. The Church accompanies parents on this journey begun at their child’s Baptism.
Let me explain further:
Why First Reconciliation at this particular age? Seven and eight year-old children are coming of age. Developmentally, they are extending their friendship networks, making choices, understanding why rules are necessary. Children notice differences, they desire fairness, and asks lots of questions. This time of preparation allows parent and child to come together. So many grace-filled moments for children to learn about taking responsibility rather than blaming others for one’s actions. They learn about respect and not bullying their classmates who may appear different. They’re encouraged to develop a regular habit of sharing.
Would you agree, that teaching our children about the Sacrament of Reconciliation provided teachable moments to communicate to them the importance of making loving choices for the right reasons? These are habits of the heart that need practice and fine-tuning.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps our children to take another step:
- we name our sin- “I cheated.” “I took something that didn’t belong to me.” “I hit my sister and made her cry.”
- we express sorrow- “I am sorry.”
- we commit not to do it again, and to do our best.
- we experience the words of God’s tender mercy and forgiveness.
After celebrating the sacrament our children may experience a sense of “relief” – “it really wasn’t that bad.” Most importantly, it’s celebration of God’s tenderness, mercy and forgiveness. The Scriptures teach us that God is always present, always ready to forgive. It is a celebration of parents, and the work of modeling forgiveness for your child.
Throughout this time of preparation, parents and catechists do their best. Really, at the heart, that’s all God expects of them. The parish community provides a number of formal and informal gatherings which give parents an opportunity to discern their child’s readiness. As First Reconciliation draws near, expect God’s abundant graces to be ever present, transforming and renewing parents and catechists, most especially the children.